The past few weeks have been dominated by drama off the field for the Bengals. The idea that head coach Zac Taylor has lost command of this team has started to spread during the team’s most recent losing streak where the team has benched some of their biggest names.
It seems that some of the younger Bengals players and sources from inside the team seem to disagree with that notion.
Jeremy Rauch of FOX19 had this to say:
Several sources inside the Bengals organization told FOX19 Now on Wednesday emphatically that the locker room is not lost - far from it.
Sources also told FOX19 NOW that a select one or two players have been driving the narrative of a lost locker room.
Cincinnati has been plagued with reports of multiple players having issues with playing time. The most notable are Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins. Dunlap seemingly started the trend when he was openly vocal of the decision to bench him prior to the Ravens game without properly being communicated with.
Then came a cryptic tweet from cornerback Darius Phillips about not wasting his talent, which gained some momentum among current and former Bengal players. John Ross reportedly also asked the team to be traded following a game where he only played one snap after being a healthy scratch for multiple weeks.
Things really blew up following the team blowing a game against the Colts where they had a 21-point lead at one point in the game. Frustrations have been boiling over with players like Dunlap having an Instagram live video that was left up to the fans to try and pull things from as he neither confirmed nor denied anything other than wanting to play. A gripe which young leaders on this team get.
“Everybody wants to play,” Tyler Boyd told reporters this week. “But I don’t think it’s starting to tarnish or have a negative effect on the locker room.”
The newest leader on this team echoed the last point during this week’s press conference as well.
“This is a very close locker room,” Joe Burrow said. “Guys love being around each other and love coming to work every day.”
This is obviously a very weird transitional period for this team. There are still a few players who are holdovers who were entrenched in the the Marvin Lewis’ and even Mike Zimmer’s (from his time as the team’s defensive coordinator) way of things. We can debate whether that is good or bad, but obviously it is hard for established veterans to sit idly by and watch this team continue to lose while being told it is the right move.
As they say, winning cures everything, but Cincinnati hasn’t done much of that in the Taylor era. Whether the team decides to purge some of the players speaking out or try and turn the ship around by weathering the storm will be seen shortly as the NFL trade deadline of November 3rd quickly approaches. The thing that seems clear is there is still a large portion of this team that believes in Taylor and this coaching staff.